Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Family Bible and My Great Grandfather's Death

Last week, my aunt and uncle had a Chanukah party at their house.  I asked my uncle (my mother's brother) if his mother had ever spoken about having aunts and uncles who were killed in the Holocaust, as my mother had never known that was the case.  He said that he knew that there were relatives killed, but "maybe the family Bible says something."  Family Bible?!?

It turns out my grandmother's youngest brother Herbie received a Chumash (Bible) from the Gemilas Chesed Sisterhood for his Bar Mitzvah.  And Uncle Herbie filled out some of the family information.
Joshowitz Siblings

He listed himself and his siblings along with Hebrew names and nicknames.  My grandmother Minnie's nickname of Myra (also what was on the 1940 census) was listed; sisters Molly and Ruthie were known as Mucky and Looty.  He also listed Molly's marriage to Larry Loden in 1942.

And then there was a page asking about ancestors:
Ancestors--or not
Phooey--most of the "genealogy" pages were blank.  He listed his parents and made a notation about his father's death: "At 2PM, Wed(nesday) Aft(ternoon).  A beautiful, hot, sunny day.  A day to be remembered."

There was more inside the front cover.  When he received the book, he wrote, "Im (sic) memory of the Bar Mitzvah of Herbert Joshowitz on the date of November 23, 1940. Given to me, H.J. on Nov. 12, 1941, by the Ladies Auxiliary of McKeesport, Pa."

And then came a description of the day of his father's death:

"(The emotional explanations are not included)

"10/21/47 - 7:30P.M

"Pop was killed Oct. 14, 1947, tues morn. at approx. 8:15, on the south side, Pittsb. on the way home from the produce yards.  He died on the way to the south side hospital - south side.

"Izzy (his older brother), I Hiam (his Hebrew name), with Bill Moldovan, went to identify Pa at the M. about 11:30 A.M. that morning.  Izzy broke down with me.  Pa was brought home at 7:P.M. in a blue, (velvet), plain casket (closed) & set in the living room parallel to the window on the porch.  Mr. Pasternak and Mr. Singer sat up and dovened (prayed) all night.  We examined or inspected the plot at the cemetery Tues. Afternoon with Mr. Greenfield (Shimon's dad).

"Wed., Pop was buried amidst a flow of tears I never again wish to encounter in any manner or form.

"May G-d Bless Pop & have Mercy on his Soul. - Amen Haim (Herbie's Hebrew Name) Josh."

I'll let that speak for itself.

Note:  I'm on Twitter.  Follow me (@larasgenealogy).

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  1. If I may ask, how, why, and by whom was he killed? Was the perpetrator(s) ever brought to justice?

    1. Per newspaper articles, it was his truck vs a city bus and a cement mixer. The bus driver was being held. But nothing further from the newspaper as to what happened to him.

  2. So sad, his grief is heart-breaking. Maybe there was an inquest or police report?

  3. How awful. Your poor great-uncle. What a treasure that Bible is. It's a shame he didn't have more genealogical information. One of my luckiest days was when my father sent me all the inscriptions of births, marriages, and deaths from his grandmother's Bible. It opened many doors for me in my research.

    1. Yes, I am so grateful to my 3x-great-grandmother who recorded almost all the information in the Bible, going back to the early 1800s!

  4. has Pennsylvania Death certificates. Looks like it was determined to be an accident - no one to blame.

  5. Lara, such a sad story, but truly wonderful that you have a hand-written record of it. It also reminds us that in those days family was 'waked' in the home.

  6. McKeesport is 3 Hours from Harrisburg. It's eerie how we feel and look back on the day your Pa died. I tried to write a few notes in that two week period and it was a rollercoaster. I still think this was healing for him to write the words of his heart. Thanks for sharing.